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Jasmijn de Boo

Chief Executive Officer

"There’s cake in the kitchen. Help yourselves!"

Jasmijn has been working in the animal protection movement since 2000, having begun her studies in 1995 (including 9 months in Thailand gaining experience). In that time, she has pretty much seen it all – but she hasn’t lost a shred of enthusiasm. With her CEO hat on, Jasmijn generates frequent flashes of strategy brilliance and loves nothing more than seeing her colleagues thrive. Directing the Society ever closer towards our shared vision, Jasmijn makes sure that the who, what, and when all happen, while keeping the Society on the right path. A regular contributor to The Huffington Post UK, you can explore her blog archive here. Being interviewed by some big-shot journalist or other and managing all of those fun-but-scary CEO duties are all just another day at the office for Jasmijn.  

Constantly active, Jasmijn enjoys travelling and hiking whenever she gets the chance. To say that she enjoys training for half marathons would be a lie, but Jasmijn likes the challenge of running a race. Very rarely these days, Jasmijn also enjoys practising her long lost synchronised swimming skills.

WHY VEGAN? : "Being vegan is the only logical choice if one is compassionate about other animals. After I became vegan over 11 years ago, I discovered it wasn’t so difficult after all" - Jasmijn

Ruth Semple

Head of Communications, Public Policy, and Research

"It's kicking off!"

Once Ruth abandoned her career aspiration of remaining a child forever, she picked up the habit of solving problems and has never looked back. Now in her 10th year working as a leader in the field of communications, Ruth is a strong voice at the Society with a knack for getting people excited about our work. 

As you’d expect from anyone with a double-barrelled middle name (‘Multi-Tasking’), Ruth is constantly on the go. With a Certificate in Loudness issued by Paul from the Trademark team, Ruth excels at explaining what we do and why, and influencing different audiences to share our vision. Ruth has but one weakness: overripe fruit (luckily, Amanda has a soft spot for her castaways, and is only too happy to mix them up with her morning porridge).

The word ‘weekend’ never really found a place in Ruth’s vocabulary. Nevertheless, she does log off from her emails occasionally, and in those rare moments loves dancing and making pretty dresses from vintage patterns, so that she can dance in them.

WHY VEGAN? : “My father is an amazing role model for me. His love of animals helped me to understand from an early age that animals are not ours to exploit. Going vegan is one of the best things I have ever done, probably even the best. Vegan food is the tastiest food I've ever had... by far. I just wish I had more time to cook!” - Ruth

George Gill

Head of Business Development

"It's win-win!"

One whiff of a vegan product and George is on it faster than you can say “trademark”. George has been with us since 2009, setting the direction for all things business-related. Most of the time, he’s busy supporting our lovely clients on the launch of their vegan-friendly products. The rest of the time, he’s making sure they’re all registered with the international Vegan Trademark (we don’t like to remind George of this too often, but it's largely thanks to his vision and drive that the Business Development team at The Vegan Society now sits head and shoulders above all other global vegan trademark schemes). With his 25 years of experience and a strong sense of business opportunities, George is an inspiration to vegan companies and manufacturers across the world. Work with him for long, and you’ll be sure to hear his favourite two words in quick succession: “win” and “win”.

Can’t cook and won’t cook – but George can be relied upon in a takeaway pizza emergency. He’s a fan of short sentences. And travels a lot.

WHY VEGAN? : “I had always been vegetarian – since birth. I drifted off the straight and narrow at university, but that only lasted 12 months. I went into veganism with an open mind, after reading lots of books – some spiritual. That was when I really understood that there’s a lot more to it than just diet. It just seemed ‘right’. Now, I enjoy eating carbs more than anything!” - George

Amanda Baker

Senior Advocacy and Policy Officer

"I have a banana and I'm not afraid to use it!"

Though Amanda is extremely busy making sure our public services cater better for vegans, she always makes time to offer a helping hand to colleagues. “Amanda will know” is one of the most frequently used phrases at Vegan Society HQ, along with “Hello”, “Goodbye” and “Is that chocolate?” Amanda is affectionately recognised as a real-life search engine for all the obscure vegan questions you would otherwise have to Google. We don’t know what we’d do without her.

A peacemaker through and through, Amanda is the last person you’d expect to list 'fighting' as one of her obsessions. However unlikely, Amanda has been known to throw some pretty good moves with her friends at weekly aikido classes. At the weekends, a garden fork is her weapon of choice as she fights climate change while practising permaculture down in her beloved allotment.

WHY VEGAN? : "Everything I believe in has increasingly aligned with vegan as a solution; but it was the environment and climate change that gave me the reason to fully commit to vegan living” - Amanda

Samantha Calvert

Researcher in Residence

“Leather cleaner? Why would anyone want to clean it? Surely, give it a decent burial”

Samantha’s brilliant plan to turn the world vegan is what powers her through the working day – and often well into the night. 2014 will see her working away on a history project linked with our 70th anniversary celebrations. 

Skilled at pinpointing exactly what’s up with the world and giving us all something to laugh about, Samantha’s raw writing style would not be out of place in satire news sites such as The Daily Mash or The Onion. Samantha is very caring and thoughtful, and enjoys nothing more than a good discussion on anything from the deep and meaningful to the trivial and absurd (such as whether or not Staffordshire oatcakes should be eaten with jam). 

WHY VEGAN? : “Vegetarian for ten years, mainly because I didn’t want animals to feel pain and die just so that I could eat meat, I finally decided to cut down on dairy products over the period of a year. Through membership of The Vegetarian Society, I realised that eggs and milk also resulted in slaughter and death. That was 18 years ago, and going vegan is still the only New Year's resolution that I have ever kept!” - Samantha

Laura Croudace

Individual Giving and Major Gifts Officer

“The more colour, the better!”

To win Laura’s heart in two minutes or less, you could do worse than to start off by saying, “Hey, Laura, I’ve had a great idea for...” and close with “which I think would really help us to raise funds. What do you think?” As our fundraising officer, Laura has the daily joy of working with people who want to support us in many different ways. Whether that’s through running, arranging fabulous vegan bake sales, or leaving a legacy, Laura is all ears. A self-professed colour addict, Laura is famous around the office for matching her clothing with her mug. 

At the weekends, Laura likes to get out and about with her family as much as possible and it takes more than a rainy day to dampen her spirits. Laura is passionate about art and design, and loves taking trips to art galleries, or sitting quietly sewing. Her favourite animals are sheep, cows, giraffes, ladybirds, and manatees.

WHY VEGAN? : “My grandfather worked in an abattoir – I vividly remember hearing about it from an early age. By the time I was four, I was vegetarian. I then moved along to veganism a few years ago, when discovering the truth about the dairy industry. I’m an animal lover, and a mother myself, and I don’t think any human has the right to decide which animals have their young taken from them. Going vegan is the best ethical decision I’ve ever made, and the best choice for my family’s health” - Laura

Alex Douglas

Volunteer Development & Grants Co-ordinator

"Kale is where it's at, people"

Every time you see Alex, she’s likely to sport a different Vegan Society tote bag – her favourite colour being pink, of course. Aside from her duties as a tote bag model, Alex supports our growing network of volunteers throughout the UK and overseas. Having been volunteering with The Vegan Society herself for several years, Alex really knows her stuff, and is especially passionate about inspiring the next generation to get involved. The best thing about working with Alex though is how excited she gets whenever we order vegan pizza from a local delivery place. Earplugs at the ready!

As if a day at The Vegan Society wasn’t enough for her vocal chords, Alex is also a member of a local choir. Living in Aberdeen for most of her childhood, Alex picked up a decidedly American accent. Alex protests it’s because many people from the USA live there for the thriving oil industry, but the jury’s still out on that one.

WHY VEGAN? : “I never really understood the reasons why people went vegan until I read a Vegan Society leaflet when I was 17. I knew then that it was something that I had to do. I remember thinking to myself, ‘I can’t not be vegan.’ And a few days later, after preparing my mum and my fridge, I was.” - Alex

Spencer Harris

Sales and Membership Co-ordinator

“Do you want the good news or the even better news?”

Spencer uses all of his 6’ 2” inches in height to reach your favourite books down from the top shelves, for sale from our online bookshop. His responsibilities include promoting membership and selling awesome vegan things, but he doesn’t stop there. Spencer is also our resident painter and decorator, shelf-putter-upper, builder, plumber, and carpenter. Trust us, he can work vegan magic with that tool box! (sign the petition here to get Spencer to start wearing a superhero cape to work).

Many of us here would love to have Spencer live at Donald Watson House around-the-clock. Seeing as though evenings and weekends are kind of the ‘done’ thing in modern day England, Spencer plans his escape around football, travelling to faraway places, and photography. He is also a devoted husband and co-parent to a one-eyed cat called Sebastian.

WHY VEGAN? : “Becoming vegan was predominantly for health reasons due to my father's ill health in 2011. It was only after embracing veganism that I was able to make the connection with the other elements and see how this new lifestyle benefited other aspects of my life.” - Spencer

Sarah Hoyle

Business Development Officer

“Have a great day!”

There’s never a dull day with Sarah around. An explorer at heart, Sarah ventures outside each morning with a bounce in her step. Having such a high level of curiosity and a thirst for knowledge and laughter leads Sarah down all sorts of exciting paths. 

En-route, we like that Sarah drops by Vegan Society HQ five days a week to help make vegan products more accessible to the wider market, as part of the Business Development team. Great news if you’re buying (easier to find the products you love) and even better news if you’re selling (increased awareness of your brand). It’s win, win!

When all those pesky e-numbers start taking their toll, Sarah prefers to get a different view of the situation by doing a handstand against the back wall.

WHY VEGAN? : “Being vegan for me is about expressing and implementing a non-violent lifestyle as far as possible. If we all take responsibility for our own individual actions we pave the way to create a better future for all of us.” - Sarah

Alix Meek

Business Development Assistant

“Sounds great!”

Known to colleagues as Alix with an “i” (not to be confused with Alex with an “e”). In her own words, “over-the-moon” to work for The Vegan Society, Alix brings just as much enthusiasm to the role as she does expertise. As Business Development Assistant, her main duties are jumping up and down with joy every time a new company registers a product with the Vegan Trademark, and nursing her foot better after jumping too vigorously.

Alix’s favourite thing to drink in the whole world is water, but she knows that doesn’t do much for the fun vegan image. So sometimes she drinks it with a curly straw. Easy to talk to and fun to be around, Alix will make you feel comfortable in any situation. Except in situations where someone needs to swim in cold water or ride a bike. She doesn’t do those things. Most subjects interest Alix, but she’s not one to pass up a little bit of 18th century social history.

WHY VEGAN? : “I live next to a slaughter house. The smell is terrible. Sometimes, when the house is quiet, I can hear the cows mooing from trucks that are parked waiting. I always have the radio on at home. Part of me wants to scream, or hurl myself in front of the trucks. Luckily, a bigger part of me is extremely happy to go out to work for The Vegan Society each day – an organisation that makes a positive difference. It’s a far more effective fight than screaming at truck drivers. I’ve been vegan for about a year and a half, and have loved every minute of it. I was spurred on by a really cool lady called Irene Barrett, who is a member of The Vegan Society actually. She really helped me to get going, and I’m ever so grateful that she did!” - Alix

Allan Oakes

Administration and Finance Officer

“Just throw it in and blend it up – it’s the easiest way to get your five-a-day!”

Morning is Allan’s favourite time of day, which is lucky, because his in-tray is usually full shortly after 10am. Powered through the morning by his famous green smoothies, Allan’s workload covers everything from processing direct debits and donations to providing general office support to the team. Even with administrative tasks coming from all directions, Allan handles our finances with dexterity and pleasure (although woe betide anyone who forgets to add a nominal code to that invoice). Now all he needs to do is figure out how to make a healthy smoothie taste like a bakewell tart, and he’ll be sorted for life.

When he’s not making everyone’s lives easier around the office, Allan enjoys listening to music, going to live gigs, and playing the drums in his band. In fact, drumming is Allan’s favourite form of exercise (it’s around 400 calories an hour, in case you were wondering. And much more fun than mowing the lawn).

WHY VEGAN? : “Seeing the price of a cheeseburger was what did it. This was at Glastonbury festival ages ago. I remember thinking, ‘all that suffering... and this is what I get?’ In that moment, I decided to go vegetarian. My decision to go vegan was just as simple. I don’t need animal products to live a healthy, happy life. I’ve been vegan for eight years and if I can do it, anyone can, because I’m the laziest person ever. At The Vegan Society, our kitchen is a place to experiment, and I’ll often get into long conversations about nutrition and recipes with other members of staff – it’s great!” - Allan

Grace Shuck

Business Development Officer

"What a lovely idea!"

Multiple choice: if you choose an answer to this question at random, what is the chance you will be correct? (a) 25% (b) 50% (c) 60% (d) 25% While you ponder that one, Grace will get to work registering more products with our Trademark logo, each of which she gives the same care and attention as she did her very first. Grace looks after our lovely Trademark clients and pretty much anything else wherever helping to propel veganism into the mainstream is concerned. Even when things don’t go as planned, Grace is always happy to go out of her way to help, fuelled by plenty of tea and the odd cherry bakewell.

Time spent outdoors pips studying psychology, learning about French language and culture, and practising yoga to the post, but it’s a close one. For an uplifting experience living in a non-vegan world, Grace highly recommends searching for vegan threads in the things you already enjoy. For Grace, that could be anything from discovering a favourite musician or actor is vegan to reading fiction with a vegan theme.

WHY VEGAN? : “I was brought up vegetarian and, for as long as I can remember, agreed with the principle that animals are not ours to exploit, but it took researching animal rights for a school project to bring home the extent to which I was still being complicit in the exploitation of and infliction of suffering on animals. This, combined with the information I received on how to live healthily on a vegan diet, gave me the push I needed to become vegan.  Evidence on the benefits veganism can have on people’s health and the environment helped reinforce my decision.” - Grace

Anna Thorley

Communications and Campaigns Officer

“How did it get to half past four already?”

Anna divides her days between looking after all of our publications and figuring out how we can make our next campaign the best ever. With ideas ranging from giant cupcakes to flying sunflowers, it’s lucky that Anna can calm her thoughts whilst cycling the five miles to and from work every day.

Most mornings, she’s in bright and early, so that she can indulge in her on-top-of-things side before tackling her famous colour-coded To Do list. Although Anna is a fan of typing, scrolling, clicking, and moving the mouse around, her talents truly lie in making large paper hats for her colleagues and writing ‘THINKING’ on them in big letters. With a dependably positive attitude, Anna takes great enjoyment from working hard and making a difference. Completely unrelated, Anna is the magazine Editor, so you can send all submissions and bribery her way. 

Anna feels most at home sitting on top of a mountain eating slightly squashed sandwiches and putting the world to rights. She also loves to write stories about goblins and magic, but they all usually end up on her one-day-I’ll-finish-these shelf.

WHY VEGAN? : “Growing up, it was always the meat I pushed to the side of my plate. It didn't feel right to me, to eat the very animals that gave me such enjoyment of the natural world. By the time I finished university, I had become more conscious of my impact on the environment, and had some serious questions about how we currently allocate resources when it comes to food. For me, veganism makes the most sense. Not only that, but it’s so much fun! I can’t believe what I was missing out on before.” - Anna

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